Birmingham & Black Country

Home care staff shift changes dropped by council

Workers at a protest in 2018
Image caption About 350 workers protested in January outside Birmingham Council House

Plans to change working patterns for home care workers in Birmingham have been dropped.

The proposed shift alterations would have seen enablement service care staff working part-time hours.

The scheme has been withdrawn by the city council following community care changes proposed by the NHS.

UNISON called it a "magnificent victory" for its members, some of who would have lost up to £11,000 a year, it said.

The row over the council's £2m cuts to home care has been going on for about 18 months.

In July, the council withdrew a proposal for staff to work triple split-shifts and replaced it with a proposition for about 280 staff to go part-time.

Analysis by Kathryn Stanczyszyn, political reporter

This has been a long battle for care workers in the city.

After a series of strikes, in February the enablement team was told by the council's Labour leadership to accept part-time hours - or they would be imposed anyway.

This caused much internal hand-wringing amongst Labour councillors - some of whom wrote an open letter condemning the move and going against the party line that the efficiency savings were 'essential'.

It seems this is no longer the case following changes to the way the NHS will fund its service.

But the background is one of intense political pressure for the Labour-run council to resolve this dispute particularly because it involves some of its lowest-paid, mostly female, workers - and after the flare-up of the bins debacle.

Cllr Paulette Hamilton, cabinet member for health and social care, said the changes were now "no longer required" due to a new scheme from Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The CCG "plans to commission a new integrated community team to improve outcomes for older people," she said.

"This will mean that there will be no contractual changes for staff, and therefore no compulsory redundancies or reductions in working hours - two of the primary objectives that Unison has sought through the dispute over the past year".

Ravi Subramanian from UNISON said: "If what the council is saying is true and they really are withdrawing their proposals, then this is a magnificent victory for these brave low-paid UNISON members in their fight for workplace justice."

Details will be discussed at a Birmingham City Council cabinet meeting on 22 May.

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